Skip to main content

Full text of "Verdict On India"

See other formats


142                                    VERDICT  OX INDIA

There is a powder which acts so swiftly that% we can say, in bold
language, it churns up the blood.' 'Bold5 is certainly the word.
And another powder, for very old men, which will 'drive away
their weakness as the dim darkness fades away with the rise of
the sun in the eastern sky.5 The picture of these vigorous aneieixts
is not very attractive.

Under th heading "For Help in Merriments' comes a positive
spate of inflammatory mixtures. One trembles to think of what
happens to those who take them. There is one which is said to
make even the most jaded persons 'lusty with electric tremors9...
a condition which, one would have thought, would lead sooner or
later to the police court. But as it also ' induces a lofty attitude
to life' the findings of the magistrate might be robbed of their
terrors.

These things have been mentioned not for their * amusement
value* but because they have a profound significance. In India,
where the shadow of death lies over so vast an area of the continent,
where so many industries fade and languish, the trade in aphro-
disiacs grows from year to year, absorbing an, utterly dispropor-
tionate amount of the nation's income.

It is a disturbing thought...as though a death mask were
twitching.

So extraordinary was the prospect of this apparent witchcraft,
being openly practised by thousands of obviously respectable
doctors in the middle of the twentieth century, that I took the
earliest possible opportunity of studying Ayurvedic hospitals,
teaching centres and dispensaries. Like all human institutions
they varied widely; in fact, a few of them, particularly those iix
Hyderabad, had features which commanded admiration, for
instead of slavishly adhering to Ayurveda, they were honest
enough to incorporate the lessons of the West. But the average
was appalling. And from that average the following composite
picture is offered of a visit to a typical Ayurvedic centre.
Hardly have we crossed the threshold than, an incident occurs